More

January 12, 2008

The Abuse of God’s Name

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Exodus 20:7, NKJV.

Today’s culture has made the mere name of God an offense without justification, especially the name of Jesus Christ.

Today’s media productions find no fault in using profanity whatsoever. Have you ever noticed that when the name of God or Jesus Christ is used in a profane and vulgar way, most of the time it is censored? But if any other profanity is used there is no censorship at all. How have we become a society that permits such profane and vulgar language that has permeated on down to the lives of adolescent children? What is heard on television, in the movie theaters and especially what they hear at home has become to them, acceptable language.


There is a careless and dismissive use of the name of God and of Jesus Christ as a form of expressive speech, which an individual feels will hold little or no consequence whatsoever when they die. Unfortunately, they are sadly mistaken and should closely examine themselves concerning such since God has said, He will not hold a person guiltless who uses His Name in vain.

Who could forget the dramatic scene in the movie A Few Good Men (1992) between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, when Lieutenant Caffey (Cruise) was pressing Colonel Jessup (Nicholson) on the witness stand, for an admission to ordering the Code Red? Do you remember Colonel Jessup’s explosive expletive that sealed his admission of guilt? “You’re God d---- right I did!”
For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Jesus, Matthew 12:37).
Loud and clear Jack! No mistake about that line in the script and I am sure God heard it too.

When a person believes that they are just using God’s Name in a playful manner, He considers it an insult and that person should be extremely conscious, to correctly understand His commandment(s) and its consequences for abuse.

What is the point to use God’s Name in vain? What is the point to blame Him or somehow make Him responsible for the negative consequences of our own selfish choices or actions?

No one ever wants to have their own name smeared in any way and we will go to great lengths to clear our name too! No one wants to be slandered with a bad name that affects his or her individual reputation and God’s Name should not be slandered either. Since we do not want malicious statements made using our own name, God expects the same with regard to His Name and the profane abuse of it will not go unnoticed by Him.

The Hebrew Name for God

God’s Name is a name not to be used in slander or in a malicious statement of anger or dissatisfaction, instead His Name could be spoken of as the Giver of Salvation (Hannoten Teshuah – Psalm 144:10). His Name could also be spoken of as the God of Israel the Savior (Elohei Yisrael Moshia’ – Isaiah 45:15, retrieved from the website Hebrew Names of God – The Savior as Revealed in the Tanakh).

Dr. Schlessinger (1998) says that giving God a “bad name” might diminish or demolish people’s belief, respect, and awe for God, a tragedy for a world that needs holiness (p. 63). Amen Dr. Laura!

Would you want to be accountable for countless people who went to hell because you added to their disbelief, disrespect and disregard for God by giving Him a bad name by the selfish abuse of God’s Name?

The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews tells us that when a person has rejected the Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, that person will not be shown any mercy because their behavior will have been witnessed by two or three people, as a proof of the testimony of their life (Hebrews 10:28).

Would the testimony of two or three people be in favor of an acquittal or a conviction on your behalf, when you must stand before God at the end of your life?

Who is to Blame?

Revelation 13:6 says, speaking of the Antichrist, “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.”

In classical Greek, blasphemy meant primarily “defamation” or “evil-speaking” in general; “a word of evil omen,” hence, “impious, and irreverent speech against God.”

God did not intend that His Name be cursed or used in an irreverent manner, but would those who do, could they be considered partners with the Antichrist?

Many people also use God’s name in vain for their own selfish desires by invoking His Name at the end of a requisition of prayer to Him. Those prayers go unanswered because they are asked with the wrong motive (James 4:3).

Is it right to blame God and use His Name in vain for the negative consequences of our choices or actions? When you accidentally hit your thumb with a hammer? When you bang your hand against the wall when you thought you had room carrying that couch to the next room? When you hit your knee against something hard as you walk in the dark to the bathroom at 2:30 in the morning, or when you accidentally lock your keys in your car and you are late for work or an appointment? How about when you lose your cell phone or Blackberry and in that frustrating moment of time, you use God’s Name in vain? Or, when the weather suddenly changes and I have heard someone saying, “Jesus Christ, the weatherman never gets it right!” As if Jesus had something to do with your discomfort with the hot or cold weather! Should God’s Name really be abused in this manner?

Dr. Schlessinger (1998) adds, “to blame God for our problems and evils is a form of scapegoating that allows us to avoid responsibility for the courage it takes to be willing to stand between evil and the innocent (p. 70).

The Sacredness of God’s Name

Most Jewish people view God’s name as sacred, though there are probably those who abuse His Name like anyone else. When the Jews use the name Adonai, it takes on a sacred significance that should not be taken lightly. Some Jews will use the term HaShem, which means “The Name” as a substitute for actually saying God.

Dr. Schlessinger (1998) says when God’s sacred name Adonai, meaning my Lord, is used in a blessing that is recited in error, the following phrase is to be immediately repeated, “Barukh Shem kevod malkhuto l’olam va’ed,” which means, “Blessed is the holy name of His sovereignty forever and ever.” (p. 78).

Too often, I have heard the casual, “Sorry God,” as the person looks to the sky toward heaven as some sign of remorse for using God’s Name in vain.

“Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am the LORD. You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 22:31-33).

An Insincere Confession of Guilt

There is a grave misconception that a person will be able to stand before God and simply say, “I’m sorry that I spoke carelessly and irreverently of your name the way I did before meeting you here. I hope that you will forgive me and permit me to join you in heaven.”

What do you think should be the result when Scripture says that God’s judgment for sin comes immediately upon death and the wages of sin is death (Hebrews 9:27, Romans 6:23)? The destination for those who will receive their full wages for their sin is hell. However, I do not want to leave out the escape clause, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I found this statement regarding making an insincere confession from Dr. Schlessinger’s book to be quite revealing. She states, “An insincere confession is not valid and is considered sacrilegious. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1987), “Sacrilegious confession willfully fails in sorrow for the sin or purpose of amendment…In such cases the Sacrament of Penance is made void, absolution is not effective… ”(p. 82, emphasis mine).

Similarly, the apostle Paul wrote, “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

I am sure that God finds it quite hypocritical of a person, who abuses the use of His Name more times than they could remember, yet when there is a dire need in his or her life, there is no hesitation whatsoever to call on His Name for help.

The doctor has diagnosed you with a form of cancer and it is frightening to know that you have cancer. Yet, you do not want to have cancer so you call on God to perform some miracle to heal you from it, and He just might to show you how much He loves you, how deep His mercy is and how extensive His grace is over your life. However, behind all of that, you have a long history of abusing God’s Name many times in your life and somehow feel that God just might be merciful enough to heal you. Do you even deserve it?

How to Respond

Well, He might be merciful to you that you would change your ways, but one thing that should be done before we come before God’s throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16), we must have a repentant heart first.

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15).

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia provides the Hebrew word for repentance is the word shūbh (shoob), is most generally employed to express the Scriptural idea of genuine repentance. It is used extensively by the prophets, and makes prominent the idea of a radical change in one's attitude toward sin and God. It implies a conscious, moral separation, and a personal decision to forsake sin and to enter into fellowship with God. It is employed extensively with reference to man's turning away from sin to righteousness.

The same encyclopedia references the Greek word for repentance as metanoéō (met-an-o-eh'-o), which expresses the true New Testament idea of the spiritual change implied in a sinner's return to God. The term signifies “to have another mind,” to change the opinion or purpose with regard to sin. It is equivalent to the Old Testament word “turn.”

John the Baptist said that we should bear fruits worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8).

A portion of Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary concerning Matthew 3:7-12, provides an additional understanding what this means. He says, “Our corrupt hearts cannot be made to produce good fruit, unless the regenerating Spirit of Christ graft the good word of God upon them. And every tree, however high in gifts and honours, however green in outward professions and performances, if it bring not forth good fruit, the fruits meet for repentance, is hewn down and cast into the fire of God's wrath, the fittest place for barren trees: what else are they good for? If not fit for fruit, they are fit for fuel. John shows the design and intention of Christ's appearing, which they were now speedily to expect. No outward forms can make us clean. No ordinances, by whomsoever administered, or after whatever mode, can supply the want of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire. The purifying and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit alone can produce that purity of heart, and those holy affections, which accompany salvation.”

A person needs to recognize that there is no way to satisfy God’s expectation of keeping each of the Ten Commandments because they have broken each one of them (James 2:10). However, a person should see that the Ten Commandments should bring us to faith in Jesus Christ because they are like a school teacher, instructing us how to live up to God’s expectation of living through His Son Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:24).

A person can live up to the Ten Commandments out of love for the Lord (Joshua 22:5, Nehemiah 1:5, John 14:15, 21, 15:10, 1 John 2:3) because they have been born-again through the Spirit of God (John 1:12-13, 3:3-7).

Are you born-again through the Spirit of God? Do you love the Lord and keep His commandments?

Oswald Chambers said, “I, a guilty sinner, can never work to get right with God— it is impossible. There is only one way by which I can get right with God, and that is through the death of Jesus Christ. I must get rid of the underlying idea that I can ever be right with God because of my obedience. Who of us could ever obey God to absolute perfection!”

Who could ever obey God to absolute perfection? The answer, only Jesus Christ could live such a perfect life, and He did so with the Bible as proof.

Jesus said, “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7).





Are you innocent or guilty before the Lord for using His Name in vain at anytime in your life? If you are guilty would that prohibit you from getting into heaven? Have you repented of your sins against God? Click here and take the Good Person Test to find out.


References

Chambers, O. My Utmost for His Highest. Retrieved January 11, 2008, from http://www.rbc.org/utmost/index.php?month=12&day=01&year=07

Hebrew Names of God – The Savior as Revealed in the Tanakh. Retrieved January 11, 2008 from http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Savior/savior.html

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.


Recommended Reading
The Holy Bible
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

1 comment:

ChristlikeNews said...

What a wonderfully written piece. Thanks!